Archive for the 'Professionalism' Category

18
May
15

Professionalism and trial practice

Twigs and rocks may … something like that.

A New Jersey appellate Court reversed a trial court decision on the grounds, at least in part, that the plaintiff’s attorney engaged in appropriate name calling, or as the Court put it much more colorfully, “untoward indecorous remarks.”

The case arose out of a motor vehicle incident in which a 17 year old female was let off a bus about .3 miles from her correct stop, and then hit by a drunk driver on the way home.  The drunk driver settled, and the trial continued against the bus company.

Admittedly, there were some other bright line appellate issues, such as the improper use of a “send a message” argument during the compensatory damage part of the trial’s closing.  But the professionalism of the plaintiff’s counsel was a major theme of the opinion that may have influenced a finding of harmful versus non-harmful error.  As the Court said at one point:  “Suggesting counsel’s line of questioning is ‘stupid,’ merely because one disagrees is offensive and unprofessional.  Puerile name-calling is condemned.”

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can get a new trial.

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10
Feb
15

better call an ethics lawyer

As a general rule, I avoid shows that focus on lawyers. I guess I prefer to watch shows that totally distort how other people do their jobs. But I am making an exception with a new show, Better Call Saul. My exception is admittedly because it is a spin off, with the same writers and directors, as Breaking Bad, what I consider the best show ever on TV.

But I figured if I were going to watch the show, I could probably find lots of ethical issue to discuss. So I plan to blog each episode of Better Call Saul, with a focus on the ethics and professionalism issues it raises. The introduction of Saul in Breaking Bad included the following quote:

So I don’t expect to lack for material. I hope you enjoy the posts, but I expect I will enjoy doing them more than you enjoy reading them.

The episode is discussed after the break:

Continue reading ‘better call an ethics lawyer’

09
Feb
15

Kim M. Jackson to participate in Professionalism and Ethics panel

Panelist Kim M. Jackson

On March 16, 2015, Kim M. Jackson will participate as a panelist in the Professional and Ethical Dilemmas in Litigation Seminar put on by ICLE.

The seminar is chaired and moderated by David N. Lefkowitz, a premier lawyer in Georgia that presents claimants in lawyer liability claims.  David is founder of The Lefkowtiz Firm, LLC and is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Georgia School of Law.

Kim will be a member of the first panel (8:30-10:00 a.m.) which will include Hon. Herbert E. Phipps, Chief Judge, Georgia Court of Appeals; Hon. Christopher S. Brasher, Judge, Superior Court of Fulton County; and Jonathan Hewett, Esq., Senior Assistant General Counsel, State Bar of Georgia.

Sign up soon.  This will be updated with a link to the I.C.L.E. sign-up page once it is put on the I.C.L.E. website.

06
Feb
15

Judicial resignation also subject of JQC Complaint

Of course I am angry. This wig looks horrible and smells.

Cobb County’s chief magistrate judge resigned on February 28.  According to his sudden resignation notice, it was for health reasons.

Since the initial reports in the Fulton County Daily Report, it has come to light that the judge was the focus of complaints with the Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission.  The complaints appear focused more on demeanor than issues such as corruption.  Additional information can be found in this ABA article.

I had never been before this judge, so I cannot speak to the substance of the allegations outlined in the article.  As a general statement, practicing law is stressful enough for litigators, even more stressful for the lay people participating as parties and witnesses, without having to deal with an abusive judge.  Judicial temperament is an important part of the being a good judge – this is probably the primary professionalism issue for Judges.  When lawyers talk about judges, this is a primary point of discussion.

Regardless of his actual temperament, Attorney Defender hopes that the judge gets the type of health care he needs.

24
Jun
11

Kim Jackson A panelist on the Ethical Implications of Social Media

 On July 15, 2011, Kim M. Jackson will be a panelist speaker at the 2011 Fiduciary Law Institute in St. Simons Island, Georgia. The topic of discussion for the panel will be Facebook, Twitter, Your Practice — The Ethical Implications of Social Media. The Fiduciary Law Institute offers three days of CLE with 12 total hours and is sponsored by the Institute of Continuing Legal Education of Georgia.

The King & Prince in St. Simons Island, Georgia - location of the 2011 Fiduciary Law Institute

04
Apr
11

Congratulations to a Great Season by my Wildcats

The University of Kentucky Wildcats, home to my law school, made their fourteenth Final Four appearance before bowing out to the national champion UConn Huskies.  This was not a team expected to make the big dance and had to beat the number one No. 1 seed Ohio State and No 2 seed (and a great program) North Carolina Tar Heels to make the Final Four.

Final Four 2011 Wildcats - Photo by Mark Cornelison | Staff Lexington Herald-Leader (www.kentucky.com)

Now – back to your serious Georgia law about lawyers issues.

26
Sep
10

How To Kill A Mediation

Several Federal Judges were interviewed about what foils mediation.  These complaints were reduced to 5 themes, and some expected subjects were mentioned, e.g., having someone with full settlement authority at hand and creating higher expectations for the client than justified.   

We can work it out.*

Several of their complaints, however, focused on the professionalism of the attorneys.  Several judges identified personal disagreements and clashes between opposing counsel as a problem that often derailed mediation.  The issue was more likely to arise in a private mediation (compared to court sponsored mediation) according to Magistrate Judge Sally Shushan, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana.  

 Individual attorney vanity was also identified as a settlement inhibitor.  Some attorneys are so focused on their own agenda and prior successes that the settlement cannot focus on the case at hand.  This braggadocio also causes client over confidence.  Reading this reminded me of something I may have said on one or more occasions:  “He is a great attorney.  If you don’t believe me, just ask him.”  Finally, several judges complained about arbitrary money demands.  One judge mentioned a case where the plaintiff’s opening demand was three times the statutory cap on all damages.  Other attorneys would change their pre-mediation offers without reason.  Some attorneys will indicate to the mediator that a fact unknown to the other side, and not to be shared with the other side, changed the value of the case.  By not sharing the information, mediation had no chance to succeed.  I have witnessed this behavior as well.  Typically, it does more harm than good and leaves a poor impression on the mediator.  Judge Celeste Bremer of the Southern District of Iowa usually concludes that the attorney making arbitrary demands is unprepared.

Mediation with the best of intentions is not always going to succeed.  Engaging in the type of unprofessional conduct discussed in this article prevents the process of mediation from succeeding.  This is simply unprofessional.  Fortunately, this unprofessional behavior is not typical.  Even better, when this behavior occurs, it often dissipates over the course of the day, especially if you have a good mediator.

*Photo from Phineas & Ferb television show from Disney Channel. All copyrights reserved by appropriate parties.




Kim Jackson Cleans Up The Mess

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